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The Sibley Field Guide to Birds of Western North America Turtleback – April 29, 2003


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Frequently Bought Together

The Sibley Field Guide to Birds of Western North America + Peterson Field Guide to Birds of Western North America, Fourth Edition (Peterson Field Guides)
Price for both: $29.15

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Product Details

  • Turtleback: 472 pages
  • Publisher: Knopf; 1 edition (April 29, 2003)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0679451218
  • ISBN-13: 978-0679451211
  • Product Dimensions: 7.6 x 5.1 x 1.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.5 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (147 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #7,803 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Library Journal

Not just spin-offs from the famed Sibley Guide to Birds, these field guides are specifically designed to tote along on outings. The maps are new.
Copyright 2002 Reed Business Information, Inc.

About the Author

David Allen Sibley is the author and illustrator of a series of highly acclaimed books about birds and birding. He is the recipient of the Roger Tory Peterson Award presented by the American Birding Association for a lifetime of achievement. He lives in Concord, Massachusetts, with his wife and two sons.

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Customer Reviews

Pictures and text are well put together.
Charles A. Gilbert
Seeing an interesting bird can be a good excuse to stop driving for a bit and look at something more interesting than other cars on a highway.
M. Romanelli
I love the Sibley Field Guides they're beautifully illustrated and jam packed with helpful info to ID the birds.
BJ Hitchcock

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

64 of 64 people found the following review helpful By Doug Tanaka on October 15, 2005
Format: Turtleback
I have owned several bird books, including Peterson's and The Sibley Guide to Birds (my two previous favorites), but find this book more useful because it's smaller (though still not happily totable), you don't need to refer to the back of the book for maps, and birds are confined to my half of the continent. I also find it useful that voice is included in the descriptions, and have used that several times as the tie-breaker.

While I understand that size constraints make it impossible to include everything, I do wish the illustrations weren't primarily profiles. There are many times I want to know what the bird looks like from the front (or even the back, although that's really asking a lot). Because of that I supplement this book with the National Geographic Field Guide to the Birds of North America, which features drawings of birds in more natural postures - less stylized and at random angles.

I find that the two books work very well together, but I always reach for Sibley's first.
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163 of 180 people found the following review helpful By Carpalis on May 12, 2003
Format: Turtleback
Of the making of many books there is no end, and so here we have another volume from David Sibley, author of the (large) Sibley Guide, hands-down the best field guide available to North American birds. Even that book has its disadvantages, though, and Sibley (or rather, one is forced to suspect, his publishers) has sought to remedy two of them--namely, its physical weight and misleading range maps--by dividing it into two considerably more portable volumes. Unfortunately, while the book now fits into generously proportioned pockets, and while the maps are tremendously improved (residents of BC, AB, and Nunavut may disagree...), the new layout made necessary by the smaller format essentially vitiates the original guide's great advantages. Gone are the startlingly large-scale images, replaced by what are for most species literally thumbnail-sized illustrations (well, I've got biggish thumbs); for most species, the images now float in the gutters and margins next to the text. The captions to these images still provide a tremendous amount of information, in a few cases even more information or more clearly stated than in the "big" Sibley. But the cramped layout means that it is impossible to compare some similar species without flipping pages; Western and Cassin's Kingbirds, for example, are on different openings. The great strength of the original guide was the vertical orientation of the species accounts, and now that that is gone, the book barely holds its own against the more traditionally designed and meatier NatGeo. I suspect that birders sophisticated enough to use this volume efficiently will not need it; and those who need it will find it frustratingly cluttered.
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86 of 98 people found the following review helpful By Hugh de Man on May 30, 2005
Format: Turtleback
While the Big Sibley Guide mostly deserves the praise it has received, the smaller Field Guides are a disappointment. They don't have the great knack that Peterson's, for example, has for giving you the precise few things you need for quick identification in the field.

For instance, I recently visited southern California for the first time and saw cormorants with blue throat patches. My Sibley Field Guide was not particularly helpful. Upon returning home, I saw that my other guides, Peterson, National Geographic, Golden, made it clear that it was Brandt's cormorant in its breeding plumage. A fine point, perhaps, but an unforgivable omission in a book that aspires to be a standard reference. I won't take it out into the field anymore.
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24 of 25 people found the following review helpful By Christopher on March 1, 2005
Format: Turtleback
I have read all the other reviews on this page and my stance has not changed. I received this book for Christmas from my parents who got my hints that I like to look at nature a little more closely than most other people. By no means am I a great bird-watcher, but I'm definitely working on improving!

While this guide to Western N.America may not be the honkin' encyclopedia other people want to sift through, this book makes for a great excursion guide, a quick way to look birds up. I am, at the moment, in possession of three other bird books, including the Audubon guide. Some have actual photographs, others have different charts. I can't say how often I actually refer to Sibley's in the end. It's just a more "natural" book to flip though.

Sibley gives you the basics, here, not extraneous info that weigh down your backpack. I like to keep track of what I see, and then do further research relaxed at home with a drink.

The first 17 pages is the usual fare of introductions to birding, color recognition, song recognition and learning, maps, and season keys. The next 7 pages includes a "Bird Topography." I don't know if this is birding lingo or creative writing, but I reference these pages often. Sibley's fantastic drawings are given black & white, sketch, and enhanced colorized treatments with breakdowns of body and wing parts for several different birds. Again, as a beginner, these are essential to me.

Thereafter are all the birds in the Western N.A. as detailed by Sibley's hands. Living by the ocean, I have access to a huge variety of birds that I never enjoyed when living in the Rockies.

I wouldn't state that the beginner should begin with only this one book. I found that I learned more about bird recognition by looking at several books. Every author has something original to say. But if there is one book to own, it would be Sibley's.

Nycticorax!
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